Fancy Scientist with Dr. Stephanie Manka podcast

Reviving the Soul of Science: Lessons from Braiding Sweetgrass

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The wisdom of Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer's book Braiding Sweetgrass has lingered in my mind and heart for quite some time. This episode of the Fancy Scientist podcast is pretty different from past ones, and I'm excited to explore with you the bridge between science and spirituality I hope you’ll have an open mind to explore with me.

Robin’s book inspired this podcast, leaving me with lots of thoughts and wisdom from her lessons on indigenous knowledge, nature connections, and science. I made this podcast to share this book’s profound impact on me and the lessons that we as scientists can learn from not only acknowledging and incorporating indigenous wisdom into science but also tapping into the spiritual connection. I am going to argue that all of us have a relationship with nature, but we are taught to ignore and forget about it. 

Braiding Sweetgrass goes beyond the typical scientific discourse. It taps into aspects we, as scientists, often shy away from—spirituality and the profound connection between humans and nature. As I share my own journey of self-discovery and reconnection with spirituality, I want to challenge the stigma that often surrounds these topics within the scientific community.

In this episode, I explore the often ignored intersection of indigenous wisdom, conservation, and the forgotten spiritual connection that we, as scientists, have with nature. The conservation story has evolved and improved, but there's still work to be done. We must recognize and respect indigenous knowledge, learn from it, and integrate it into conservation not only because it’s the right thing to do and nature benefits from it but also because doing so teaches us lessons about ourselves, ultimately making the world a better place for everyone and everything. .

I appreciate you listening with curiosity and compassion as we explore new dimensions of the conservation story.

Specifically, I talked about:

  • My personal journey rediscovering spirituality and its impact in my life
  • How scientists have become overly analytical and ignored important intuitive ways of knowing
  • The conflict between Western science and spirituality and the stigma around discussing faith
  • Indigenous communities' sustainable coexistence with nature before colonial disruption
  • Problems with past Western conservation approaches that excluded local peoples and the consequences for wildlife
  • The importance of respecting indigenous wisdom and traditional ecological knowledge
  • Robin Wall Kimmerer's perspectives from "Braiding Sweetgrass" on weaving indigenous worldviews with Western science
  • Steps all of us, scientists included, can take to reconnect spiritually with the natural world
  • Why opening our minds to different belief systems allows for more inclusive, ethical conservation 
  • And MORE!!

I’m Dr. Stephanie Manka (formerly Schuttler), a wildlife biologist of nearly 20 yrs with 20+ peer-reviewed scientific publications, author of the book Getting a Job in Wildlife Biology: What It’s Like and What You Need to Know ( and founder of Fancy Scientist. My channel and the Fancy Scientist LLC is dedicated to connecting people to science and nature, breaking stereotypes of, and empowering scientists. I help aspiring and struggling wildlife biologists get the right training so they can get jobs, live out their life’s purpose and make a difference in this world.

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